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Spring cleaning 101: How to clean grout

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Tips on how to clean tile grout

The spring cleaning season is upon us, and it's a great time to give the grout in your home a refresh. Kitchens and bathrooms have multiple areas with grout between tiles, including around the sink or tub and backsplash. Grout has a gritty surface, and dirt, debris and other things you don’t want to think of often end up there. Tile and grout cleaning is no small task — but it's easier and quicker when you invest in the right grout cleaner tool. We'll discuss how to clean grout effectively and finding the best grout cleaner for the job. 

Shop this article: Zep Grout Cleaner and BrightenerOXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set and Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber

Natural vs. chemical grout cleaner

Many consumers wonder whether they should use natural or chemical grout cleaners. It’s a personal choice, so weigh the pros and cons of both.

A natural or DIY grout cleaner uses everyday products in your home, such as lemon juice, vinegar or baking soda. They’re affordable and produce fewer odors than chemical cleaners. One of the pitfalls of natural cleaners is that solutions must be well-balanced to be effective. As a result, some consumers may see less-than-satisfying results with them.

Chemical grout cleaners use deep-cleaning ingredients like bleaching agents or degreasers. They’re more reliable than natural or homemade grout cleaner options and offer longer-lasting results. A chemical grout and tile cleaner is usually scented and may irritate those with sensitive noses and eyes.

How to clean grout on tile floors and surfaces

The method for cleaning grout on floor tiles and surfaces depends on your products and tools. For the most part, it involves the application, scrubbing and rinsing of problem areas.

Some products need a set time following application to dislodge dirt and grime. Others scrub into the grout and need rinsing immediately. Some no-rinse grout cleaners dry on their own but excess moisture must not get introduced for a few hours.

Other things to know before cleaning grout

  • Cleaning tile grout is somewhat of a laborious process that involves elbow grease, squatting and reaching. Some say it's a decent aerobic workout.

  • Many grout cleaners contain harsh chemicals that damage or discolor clothing. Wear old clothes when you clean, especially when using bleaching agents.
  • When working with chemical grout cleaners, open windows and doors to minimize exposure to fumes. The more air circulation the better.

Best grout cleaners and brighteners

Dedicated grout cleaners dissolve buildup and grime better than other cleaners. These cleaners are also designed to preserve grout and won’t damage the surrounding tile.

If you’re looking to brighten and whiten, consider a hydrogen peroxide-based grout cleaner. These are effective at penetrating and lifting deep-set stains. They’re the best option for cleaning stained grout caused by soap scum.

Some grout cleaners need time to activate, such as this Zep tile and grout cleaner. This gel-like formula de-gunks grout after only three minutes and requires less scrubbing than others.

Best tile and grout cleaner tools

Some people are partial to manual grout scrubbing devices because they offer more control than electric ones. 

A classic grout and corner scrubber is ideal for tackling small sections. Detail brushes, such as these from OXO Good Grips, are better for grout and tile cleaning in small areas that require more attention than others.

Those who want to take the hard work out of grout cleaning prefer electric scrubbing devices. A small power scrubber, which resembles an electric toothbrush, allows targeted cleaning. It’s the most reliable cleaning device for corners, nooks and crannies.

If you’re looking for a large scrubbing device to cover more area, reach for your power drill and invest in a drill brush head attachment. The rapid rotations of the grout cleaning brush blast away dirt and grime quickly.

Other essential products for tile grout cleaning

Heavy grout cleaners are chemical-laden, so it’s a good idea to protect skin by wearing gloves. Playtex Living Reusable Rubber Cleaning Gloves offer three layers of protection, including a drip cuff.

Scrubbing grout often causes cleaners to spray in several directions, including toward your eyes. Avoid eye irritation and injury by wearing protective goggles. These DeWalt safety goggles have a clear anti-fog coating and an adjustable strap for a custom fit. 

Kneeling on the floor or tub is tough on joints, so take it easy with a foam pad or cushion. The Gorilla Grip Premium Thick Kneeling Pad is 1.5 inches thick and uses water-resistant material.

Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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